Ghosts of Press Boxes Past

The press box. The name evokes images of veteran reporters, sleeves rolled up, sitting behind their Underwood typewriters in a cloud of cigar or cigarette smoke, pounding out stories, scoops, columns, and features for the many newspapers across the country – whether from New York, Boston and Chicago or Kansas City, Cleveland, and St. Louis. Names like the Post-Dispatch, Plain Dealer, Globe, Herald, Post, Times, Tribune, Gazette, Daily News, and Free Press were bibles in their home cities. And horseracing was considered one of the deified chapters.

Whether covering horseracing, baseball or boxing, the three most popular sports in America from the ‘30s to the early ’60s, the press box was a place of camaraderie, stories, jokes, and perhaps a drink or two at the end of the day.

Those who inhabited the press box were respected journalists, who came up through the ranks and were the envy of every kid who could only dream of interviewing Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Mohammed Ali, and get right up close to Kelso, Citation, Swaps, Buckpasser, Damascus, and Dr. Fager.

These were men at the top of the food chain – men like Red Smith, Dick Young, Jim Murray, Joe Palmer, Charlie Hatton, Barney Nagler, Joe Hirsch, and before them, Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, and Damon Runyon. They were all legendary sportswriters and they all covered Thoroughbred racing, which the great Red Smith always said was his favorite sport to cover.

These men were revered; a small group who attained fame themselves, as did, in many ways, every racing beat writer who was able to make it to the top of his profession and say proudly he was a sportswriter or a racing writer. These were not young men in their 20s and 30s; most were veterans in their 50s and 60s who started at the bottom and had to earn their way into the press box. To become part of this fraternity was an honor. As famous as the late actor Jack Klugman was, don’t think he wouldn’t have loved to have been Oscar Madison.

It is sad to say those days are gone. Yes, gone with the wind – the wind of change. The once hustling and bustling press boxes are now no more than ghost towns; hollow shells inhabited by no one. The most hallowed of all press boxes was at Churchill Downs, with its panoramic view of the track. That was torn down a number of years ago, with the media being moved to another facility, called a “media center” – a large space that was occupied at full capacity only one week out of the year. So to make way for a new luxury suite, the media was moved yet again, this time to a former betting parlor located near the track’s front entrance and far removed from the actual racetrack. Media members no longer park on-site, but are now shuttled from a far-off parking lot to and from the track.

The sport, from a media standpoint, has changed dramatically with the times. The sounds of pecking on computer keyboards can be heard only four times a year now, during the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup. But no longer are the stories emanating from those computers being sent to newspapers by professional, salaried employees of those papers. The press box occupants are now mainly free-lance writers or bloggers writing for websites or their own personal blog. Names like the Times, News, and Gazette have been replaced by Horse Racing Nation, America’s Best Racing, Thisishorseracing, outlets for ESPN and Fox Sports, and Horseraceinsider, run by former Newsday racing writer John Pricci.

In New York, for example, the Times stopped having a regular presence in the press box years ago, now concentrating more on occasional features and exposes. The day before last year’s Belmont Stakes, the Post fired its longtime racing writer and their two top handicappers. The News got rid of all newspaper coverage, focusing on the internet, only to fire their racing writer and handicapper this week. Long Island’s Newsday also is long gone as far as racing coverage.

In another incident this week, we didn’t have a newspaper getting rid of racing, we had racing get rid of a newspaper. The New York Racing Association banned the popular publication The Saratoga Special from being distributed at Saratoga for reasons known only to them. Considering the Saratoga Special boosts interest in racing at Saratoga, is not controversial in any way, is a must read when in Saratoga, and costs absolutely nothing, NYRA’s actions seemed perplexing. A compromise was then made, allowing the publication to be distributed at only three designated places on-track. Then, thanks to the rallying cry of its supporters and the efforts of several people at NYRA, the Saratoga Special finally was “back in business.” Who knows what that was that all about in the first place?

Here we had another example of the silencing of horse racing by eliminating, or in this case, attempting to eliminate, a newspaper. This time, however, it was racing devouring itself. Thank goodness, the powers that be came to their senses.

The Belmont Park press box has now become virtually silent, an echo chamber with the Daily Racing Form all that remains of the once extensive press corps.

Racing’s leaders talk about the reversing the decline of the sport, dealing with a litany of controversial issues and basically making little headway.

But can’t we see what is right before our eyes; something we are blind to or choose to ignore?

If the racing world is ever going to end it is not going to happen in one cataclysmic blast. As Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring, “Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.”

Like everything, there are warning signs. No one is attempting to compare the steady disappearance of the birds or the loss of the rain forests and other important habitats to the steady disappearance of newspaper racing writers. But it nonetheless is a warning sign of the sport’s self-destructrion. It is not the actual disappearance of racing writers as much as it is the reason why newspapers have gotten rid of them.

According to newspaper editors and publishers, no one cares about racing anymore. Instead of attempting to make them care, they just take the sport, crumple it up and throw it in the trash, as they would a piece of poorly written copy.

We may not realize it, but this is a microcosm of what is happening to the sport on all fronts, in that we have lost one of the main concepts of journalism – force the public to become interested, just as poker, NASCAR, wrestling, and mixed martial arts have done. Just as milk did years ago and insurance is doing now. The public has proven time and again they will buy anything if you make them. Make racing a product in demand and the newspapers will return, and so will the journalists.

Of course, this is easier said than done. It requires an inventive marketing mind on a national level, not just marketing heads at individual racetracks. It is the fractured nature of racing that has hurt the sport. Yes, of course, we must get rid of the public’s perception of racing by exposing the cheaters and uncovering sinister activities and pushing for harsher penalties. But, like everything, that is a slow, tedious process and easier said than done when you have no single ruling body, as do the major sports.

Racing writers once helped nourish the Sport of Kings, enabling it to continuously grow, not only by their words, but by bringing it into the public’s consciousness through newspapers. Not just the public in New York or Los Angeles, but in small cities and towns across the country. They were the link between horseracing and America, even to venues like Salt Lake City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, and Spokane. They all had a presence in press boxes across the country. Now, as the newspapers say, no one cares anymore, except on the rare occasion when you have a California Chrome or a Smarty Jones. But the sport cannot subsist on such a sparse diet.

So, newspapers continue to eliminate what they consider to be dinosaurs. First it was the racing writers. Next it will be the sport itself, which has been driven into the ground and is close to being buried completely. A good deal of the publicity racing does get concerns its nefarious activities, and many people now view the sport in a negative light. We must eliminate that perception in the eyes of the general public. We must bring back the birds. We must bring back the beauty. We must bring back the words.


Stevens Will Require Full Knee Replacement

Stevens Will Require Full Knee Replacement

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens’ damaged right knee is worse than originally thought and will require complete replacement, complicating his plans for a later comeback.
In an exclusive interview with HRTV’s Laffit Pincay III and Christina Blacker July 18, Stevens said a magnetic resonance imaging test showed that his ACL is completely torn. After originally hoping to get a partial knee replacement, he is now slated for full replacement surgery July 25.
“I went in for an MRI yesterday, and Dr. (Andrew) Yun just called me and said that there was way too much internal damage to the knee to do a partial replacement,” Stevens said. “So, we are scheduled to do a full replacement next Friday.”
Stevens, 51, said the possibility exists that he will not be able to resume competitive riding.
“It’s been a great run, a great career, and if I don’t make it back, I can live with that,” Stevens said. “But I’m going to bust my butt to do it…my ACL was completely shot, which I didn’t even know. That was a big shock. I’ll just say it. There was some tears when he called me.
“(Yun) said he’s never seen anybody do what (I’ve) been doing with no ACL,” Stevens added. “So, I apologize to anyone who happens to have lost some money on me. I’ve been doing the best I could do for awhile. It hasn’t been right for the last month-and-a-half…that’s where we’re at. I’m looking forward to either getting back in the saddle at some point, or continuing on with my broadcasting career.”
Stevens, who has ridden 4,988 winners, ranks ninth all-time on the North American earnings’ list with $236,951,490. He resumed his career in January 2013 after retiring in 2005. Included in his comeback victories were the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) with Mucho Macho Man, Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) aboard Beholder, and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with Oxbow  .
During his break, Stevens served as a racing analyst for HRTV and NBC, and was among the actors on the HBO series “Luck.”

The full interview is available via

Gulfstream to Hike Purses 10%, Add Incentives



Gulfstream Park announced July 17 that it will increase purses an average of 10% starting with its July 24 condition book, and also offer a $250 starter incentive to help horsemen offset the cost of workers’ compensation.

In a news release, Gulfstream said the purse increase is the result of an agreement signed July 1 between Gulfstream and Calder Casino & Race Course that ended a dates conflict and head-to-head weekend racing.

The track did not provide specific numbers. But a comparison of upcoming  Fridays shows purses of $194,375 for  nine races  July 18 and of $238,000 for nine races July 25. Both days’ numbers  include Florida Owners Awards.

Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., added that “since the agreement was signed, Gulfstream’s total handle and field size has increased significantly.” It did not provide specific numbers,.

However, a Blood-Horse review of Equibase  Co. charts showed that Gulfstream averaged an impressive $3.9 million in all-sources handle for its eight race days between July 1 and July 13.

The last day of head-to-head racing was June 29. Gulfstream’s average daily handle was in the $3 million range and Calder’s was in the $800,000 to $900,000 range during  the second half of June.

This past weekend of July 11-13, Gulfstream had average daily all-sources handle of $4.3 million. Gulfstream had 30 races over the three days with an average of 9.6 starters per race. The track averaged  about eight horses per race during the second half of June.

Last weekend’s average wagering per day on Gulfstream races was 59% higher than its $2.7 million on the June 27-29 weekend–the last during which Calder  also had racing.

Gulfstream added that it has also made significant strides in reinvigorating the Florida 2-year-old program and the $1.4 million Florida Sire Stakes, which begins Aug. 9.

“The solid increases we’ve seen in field size and handle confirms our long-held belief that a dates agreement would benefit racing and horsemen,” Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo said. “Our strategy is to continue building Florida racing for our bettors, horsemen and breeders, and create a healthy year-round racing program.”

Ritvo added: “Because of our increase in handle we will offer a $250 starter bonus to our horsemen through Oct. 4 to help offset the cost of workers’ compensation. While this will help in the short-term, our goal continues to work with horsemen on a long-term solution to workers’ compensation.”

Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said: “Florida horsemen are excited about summer racing again for the first time in years. A purse increase, starter incentive, the best field sizes in the country, and a track that is marketing and publicizing the sport. Why wouldn’t we be optimistic?”

Gulfstream’s current meet will run through Oct. 4. It has racing Thursdays through Sundays, with first post time of 1:15 p.m. ET.


Owner Conference Offers iPad Mini Bonus

Attendees who register by Aug. 15 for the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Lexington will receive an iPad mini as a bonus upon arrival at the Oct. 13-16 event.

Among the activities planned for the four-day conference are panels featuring successful owners discussing their approaches to ownership, along with sales and bloodstock professionals discussing the search for talented equine athletes. There will be behind-the-scenes tours of some of the world’s leading breeding operations, social events where attendees can gather to meet and network with other owners and industry professionals, a keynote address from Hall of Fame golfer and Thoroughbred owner Gary Player, and a VIP day of racing at Keeneland.

Each iPad mini will be pre-loaded with a full schedule of events, biographies on all speakers and panelists, as well as maps and directions to various venues.

The conference at Keeneland is being hosted by OwnerView, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club. Designed for both experienced and prospective owners, the event is being co-presented by Del Mar, Keeneland, New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group.

“The iPad mini is our way of thanking individuals who have shown such enthusiastic support of our first Thoroughbred Owner Conference,” said Gary Falter, vice president of operations for OwnerView. “This conference epitomizes OwnerView’s mission to attract and retain owners in Thoroughbred racing, and we’ve built an agenda designed to be educational, informative, entertaining, and rewarding for all attendees.”

Conference details, including the complete schedule of events, registration forms and host hotel information, are available at Additional information about the conference may be obtained by contacting Gary Falter at (859) 224-2803 or by email at

Million-Dollar Boost for Kentucky Purses


The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved a plan to distribute an additional $1 million in purse money from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund in 2014 and 2015.

The money was made available through a transfer of funds from the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council to the KTDF. That transfer was dictated through state legislation at the 2014 session. At its regular meeting July 16 in Louisville, the KHRC approved the $1 million total distribution to four Kentucky tracks.

Under the plan, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, and Keeneland will each receive $300,000 while Turfway Park will receive $100,000. Kentucky Downs noted that its KTDF purse funding is in good standing and did not apply.

The allocations approved by the KHRC follow the recommendation of its KTDF committee, which is chaired by J. David Richardson, who also is a commissioner.

Ellis Park, which had requested $350,000, plans to use the awarded funds at the current meeting to add eight allowance races for 2-year-olds. Next year it plans to use the funds to add a pair of stakes races, one for juveniles and one for juvenile fillies. Ellis officials had considered adding those stakes races this year, but noted that because of the late timing, the races likely would not have received listed status.

Churchill had requested $450,000, based on its 45% KTDF participation in the past, but was awarded just $300,000. The KTDF recommends that $300,000 be used to address a $125,000 shortfall at the end of the spring-summer meet with the rest to be awarded in Churchill’s September and November meetings.

Richardson noted that Ellis has shown a commitment to improving purses by putting Instant Racing gaming in place while Churchill has not added the machines. He said there was no single factor in determining the dispersals but that the committee was impressed by Ellis Park’ efforts.

“The committee felt like Ellis is doing everything they can to improve racing,” Richardson said.

Ellis general manager Bob Jackson said this month the track surpassed $2 million in Instant Racing handle in two weeks, which is the shortest time it has ever taken to reach that handle milestone. He said pari-mutuel handle during the first week of the live meet was up 15%.

Keeneland, which will add Instant Racing next year, had proposed using its $300,000 to boost its fall 2015 meeting that will end with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. But the committee did not want the track to wait that long and recommended the money be awarded at the 2014 fall and 2015 spring meets.

Turfway, which requested $225,000, received $100,000 that it plans to use to maintain its 3-year-old stakes schedule. Richardson noted that after cancellations last year, the track already has a surplus of KTDF funds.

In 2015, Ellis plans to bring back to its schedule the Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes for juvenile fillies and the J. C. Ellis Preview for 2-year-olds. Both races would offer purses of $125,000 with a combination of association funds and KTDF funds used. This year Ellis plans to increase its number of maiden and allowance races from 32 to 40 while increasing KTDF purses by $5,000 a race.

In other KHRC news:

—The commission renewed its contract, up to $250,000, with its lab HFL Sport Science to allow study and development of tests for emerging illegal substances. The “rapid response” protocol was put in place last year and funding has been used to improve testing for Cobalt.

—The KHRC approved planned improvements at Kentucky Downs, including a new safety rail and other course upgrades, in time for its five-day meeting that begins Sept. 6. Ron Moore, former track superintendent at Santa Anita Park, will oversee the changes.

Fashion Alert Heads Schuylerville, Spa Opener

Fashion Alert Heads Schuylerville, Spa Opener

Photo: Coglianese Photos

Fashion Alert won the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park by 4 3/4 lengths

Is it time already for the New York Racing Association to put up a wanted poster looking for 2-year-olds to compete in Saratoga stakes?

Not only did the opening day stakes, the $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga Race Course, lure only five fillies, one of them, Mast Cove, has competed in only maiden claiming races in Maryland and Delaware; one, Tulira’s Star, has never run on dirt, with only a maiden score on Arlington’s Polytrack; and one, Evrybdymstgetstonz, has never run in open company, breaking her maiden against New York-breds.

That leaves the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Take Charge Brandi, a maiden winner going 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, and the overwhelming favorite, Fashion Alert, who captured the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park by 4 3/4 lengths in her only start for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Fashion Alert’s Beyer Speed Figure of 88 was 28 points higher than Take Charge Brandi’s, which gives you an indication just how dominant the daughter of Old Fashioned  —Titan Queen, by Tiznow  , looks on paper. Even more impressive is the fact that she broke terribly in the Astoria and then was rushed to the lead, where she eventually drew off to win comfortably in 1:04.01 for the 5 1/2 furlongs.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Fashion Alert has three works at Saratoga, including a bullet half-mile work over the training track June 28, as well as two sharp half-mile drills over the main track. She will try to give Pletcher his fifth victory in the Schuylerville.

“She’s special,” owner George Bolton said, “Obviously, Todd thought enough of her to start her off in a stakes. I hadn’t seen her since March and she’d grown up by then. From the way she gallops out and the Tiznow side, we’re hoping distance won’t be an issue for her this year.”

But when you’re dealing with young inexperienced 2-year-olds, anything can happen, and who really knows how good Tulira’s Star and Evrybdymstgetstonz are?

The former equaled the 88 Beyer earned by Fashion Star, even if it was on Polytrack, and subsequently was purchased by Team Valor and turned over to trainer Richard Mettee. The daughter of Congrats   won by 3 1/2 lengths as the 2-1 favorite and looks to have a future. Joe Bravo has the mount.

Evrybdymstgetstonz trounced state-breds by six lengths in her career debut at 23-1, but earned only a 59 Beyer figure. However, the Gary Contessa-trained daughter of Bustin Stones   looked good doing it and has since breezed a sharp three furlongs in :35 1/5 over the Saratoga training track.

Mast Cove is a daughter of Cowboy Cal   whose Beyers have climbed with each start and she has improved with blinkers added, but still must prove she can handle fillies of this caliber.

As for Take Charge Brandi, the daughter of Giant’s Causeway  , who cost $435,000 as yearling at Keeneland September, wired her field going 4 1/2 furlongs and now must stretch out to six furlongs. She must also improve off her 60 Beyer figure.


TVG, NYRA Extend Multi-Year Agreement

TVG, NYRA Extend Multi-Year Agreement

TVG Network and the New York Racing Association announced July 15 a multi-year extension of their agreement for TVG to televise, stream, and accept wagers on live horse races from Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.
Under the terms of the agreement, TVG will increase the exposure for high definition telecasts of NYRA races on its network.
“Both the New York Racing Association and TVG have made significant investments in high definition television capabilities over the past year and this agreement allows us both to provide the highest quality coverage to the greatest number of people possible on a daily basis,” said Kip Levin, CEO of TVG and Betfair US. “We view this as a starting point for the two organizations to innovate in creating new and better ways for customers to enjoy this fantastic racing product.”

Programming enhancements will include features on TVG’s television network with NYRA’s on-track television hosts and increased on-site productions by TVG at Belmont Park and Saratoga. In addition to the TVG Acorn (gr. I), TVG will also sponsor the TVG Diana (gr. IT) July 26 at Saratoga, and will sponsor the “Super Saturday” card from Belmont on Sept. 27.
“The extension of our agreement with TVG will provide featured, long-term placement through the broadest, most technologically advanced distribution network available,” said Christopher Kay, NYRA president and CEO. “This is a win for everyone.”


Los Alamitos Meet Handles $5 Million a Day

 Los Alamitos Meet Handles $5 Million a Day

Photo: Benoit Photo

Los Alamitos Race Course

Los Alamitos Race Course officials July 13 said the eight-day summer Thoroughbred meet generated average daily total pari-mutuel handle of $5,070,966.

It was the first Thoroughbred-only meet at the Southern California racetrack since the Orange County Fair session in 1991. Los Alamitos does offer limited Thoroughbred racing at night as part of its Quarter Horse meet.

“It was a great first step for Los Alamitos,” vice president and general manager Brad McKinzie said. “We put on a good show and that was our main goal. We could always use more horses, but everybody could use more horses. We’re happy.”

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, field size during the meet averaged 6.99 horses per race. Purses averaged $348,769 per day.

Los Alamitos this year took what would have been the last two weeks of the Hollywood Park spring meet. The rest of those dates were absorbed by Santa Anita Park, which reported average daily all-sources handle of $9.92 million and paid about $480,000 per day in purses.

Hollywood Park shut down at the end of 2013.

Los Alamitos will offer another Thoroughbred meet Sept. 5-21. Those are the days that had normally run by Fairplex Park, which has opted to get out of the live racing business.




Early Entries

Thursday, July 17




Race# Race   Type


Race   1 Claiming   – $10,000


Race   2 Maiden   Claiming – $20,000


Race   3 Allowance   Optional Claiming – $62,500


Race   4 Maiden   Claiming – $20,000


Race   5 Allowance   Optional Claiming – $62,500


Race   6 Maiden   Special Weight


Race   7 Starter   Allowance – $40,000


Race   8 Oceanside S.


Race   9 Claiming   – $20,000


Race   10 Claiming   – $32,000



Friday, July 18




Race# Race   Type


Race   1 Maiden   Claiming – $50,000


Race   2 Maiden   Claiming – $20,000


Race   3 Allowance   Optional Claiming – $20,000


Race   4 Maiden   Claiming – $20,000


Race   5 Claiming   – $8,000


Race   6 Allowance   Optional Claiming – $80,000


Race   7 California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association S.


Race   8 Maiden   Special Weight


Story to Tell, La Grange Win Juvenile Stakes


Story to Tell, La Grange Win Juvenile Stakes

Photo: Benoit Photography

Story to Tell wins the W.L. Proctor Memorial Stakes.

Story to Tell won for the second time in three starts, defeating favored Bad Read Sanchez in the $98,000 Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes July 13 at Los Alamitos Race Course, one of two stakes for 2-year-olds on closing day of the Summer Thoroughbred Festival.
Later in the afternoon, La Grange, second in her career debut June 8 at Arlington International Race Course, surprised 1-5 favorite Heart of Paradise in the $100,000 TVG Cinderella.

Apprentice jockey Drayden VanDyke wrapped up the riding title at the inaugural Summer Thoroughbred Festival with a pair of victories on the final program.
The Kentucky-born and Arkansas-raised VanDyke, who will turn 20 in September, finished with 12 victories, four more than runner-up Joe Talamo.
Owned by Cecil Peacock and trained by Dan Hendricks, the same combination that had much success nearly a decade ago with multiple stakes winner Brother Derek, Story to Tell prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:10.28 for six furlongs.
A son of Bluegrass Cat   and the Silver Deputy mare Haddie Be Good, Story to Tell was ridden by Joe Talamo and paid $5.20 and $2.40 in the four-horse field. A $200,000 Barrettts March purchase, he’s earned $118,600.
Favored at 9-10 on the strength of a 10-length maiden win in his June 20 debut for trainer Doug O’Neill and Reddam Racing, Bad Read Sanchez returned $2.40 to place. There was no show wagering after the Proctor field was reduced by the scratches of the O’Neill pair of Wake Up Nick and Henry’s Holiday.
Reserved off the pace set by Peradventure, Story to Tell rallied on the outside, gained the lead at the quarter pole, and won with something in reserve.
Joe Steiner, the rider of Peradventure, who wound up third, claimed foul against both Talamo and Mario Gutierrez, the rider of Bad Read Sanchez, for alleged interference, but it was dismissed by the stewards.
“He’s a nice colt and he looks even better when he runs,” said Hendricks. “It’s special to win this race. Willard Proctor gave me my first job at the track. I started galloping horses for him at Hollywood Park in 1976.
“(Story to Tell) is nominated to the Del Mar Futurity (Sept. 3), but there’s also the (grade II) Best Pal in three weeks (Aug. 3), so we’ll debate that,” Hendricks added.
The $300,000 Del Mar Futurity is Sept. 3.
La Grange was reserved off the pace in the Cinderella, then overtook 1-5 pick Heart of Paradise near mid-stretch and drew clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths as the 4-1 second choice.
Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux rode the winner for brother Keith, who trains the daughter of Curlin   for Big Chief Racing. La Grange was purchased for $17,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September sale.
Out of the Awesome Again mare Jennie R., La Grange completed the six furlongs in 1:09.92 and paid $10.60, $2.80 and $2.10. She’s earned $67,200.
“We thought she put in a good effort first time out and we thought she might like the dirt better than the Polytrack,” said Julie Clark, Keith Desormeaux’s assistant trainer. “She proved us right.”
After an impressive debut win June 5 at Santa Anita, Heart of Paradise, who returned $2.10 and $2.10,  finished 3 3/4 lengths in front of the show horse, Slew’s Charm ($2.40).
Abets Abet and Global Hart completed the order of finish. Shh She’s Ours, the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, was scratched after flipping in the paddock.

Van Dyke posted the first riding title for an apprentice in Southern California since the late J.C. Gonzalez led at Fairplex Park in 1998.
“It means a lot,” said VanDyke, who rode only seven of the eight days of the meet. He missed July 12 when he was at Arlington International Race Course.
“It’s really cool to get the first riding title at Los Alamitos in its first Thoroughbred meet (since the last Orange County Fair season in 1991). It’s pretty cool to go down in history.
“It was a long two meets tying together at Santa Anita, so it was kind of dragging along the last couple of weeks and I got a couple of suspensions, so it kind of ruined my momentum,” Van Dyke added. “I got here, a new place, new horses, and it just took off.”
Peter Miller topped the trainer standings with three wins. He is three victories shy of 500 for his career.